Leaving Saskatchewan aka, love letter to saskatoon

So today will be my last day in Saskatchewan. Having been here for several years, I’ve both loved and hated this city (those feelings often corresponded with the weather.) But after a while, when I said “I’m going home,” that meant Saskatoon, not Edmonton. This post has nothing to do with being vegan really, it’s heavy on the Prairie part though.

Saskatoon is a city with opportunities for great things. Not that it has the potential to be great, but it is, you just have to actively seek out the awesome things that are happening here. There have been a few occasions where I’ve looked for equivalent activities availible here in Saskatoon in other and bigger cities, only to find them lacking. Maybe the city’s small scale makes these things possible. I wont miss the cold weather, but I will miss quite a few things.

I will miss walking across the Broadway bridge towards downtown and looking at the Bessbourough Hotel as it reflects in South Saskatchewan River after watching a Rosebud burlesque performance or attending a poetry slam at Lydia’s or going to a raw food pot luck.

I will miss the public discussion groups held by CIHR, Cafe Scientifique, where people gathered (in crowded rooms) and shared ideas on topics like harm reduction, food safety, mental health. I will miss the being able to participate in SWITCH, a student driven project offering after hours care in the core neighbourhood (a project I haven’t seen in many other cities.) I will miss the awesome and passionate people working for people with or affected by HIV/AIDS through Aids Saskatoon, the condom blitzes, the red ribbon campaigns, and the seminars.

I will miss all the kitties at Street Cat Rescue, a group near an dear to my heart. An amazing organization that worked with the city and the Saskatoon SPCA to bring about city sponsored subsidized spaying/neutering this year. The countless volunteers I met, the cats that have literally left me with little reminders of our meetings, the heartbreak of not being able to help, the heartbreak of meeting a box of newborn kittens at the office in the morning and finding out later that one or two didn’t make it. I will never forget it, and I know I will always be a part of this group even from afar.

I will miss the constantly growing arts community, the Rosebud Burlesque Academy, Poi and fire dancing, the great indipendent music scene. I will miss the Roxy Theatre, and the moment where I realized it was the only theater in Canada playing a film I wanted to see. I will miss running on the Meewasin trail where I saw a pelican colony for the first time near the weir.

I will miss how amazingly active Saskatoon is. The moment the snow disappeared, people were running, walking, and cycling everywhere, taking advantage of the good weather immediately (even when by anyone elses standards it was still COLD!!!) They acted as inspiration for me to get out of the gym and go outside onto the trails.

I will miss the University of Saskatchewan campus which has been my home away from home. Ancient architecture holding up against the elements, greystone buildings, the modern meeting the old in one place. I will miss participating in the Horticulture club, meeting people with innovative (and occasionally delightfully radical) ideas on gardenning, permaculture, and large scale growing projects. Growing fruits and vegetables, picking them straight off the field and stuffing them in my mouth, eating a watermelon five minutes after it had been hacked off the vine, standing in a field of purple and green basil, picking it, and putting it on my portobella basil sandwich later that evening.

On that same topic, I will miss the interesting evolution of restaurants and cooking ideas. Some local chefs relying more on locally sourced products, and working with the seasons to develop creative menus (like at Boffin’s.) Souleio foods opening up a year or so ago, with it’s random foodie treats, another bistro opening up downtown, with a wonderful variety of options. Even if the options weren’t vegan, I’m still really into the idea of being creative with food, because to me, based on past experience, that is a sign of a chef that will take up the challenge of making something I can eat.

I will miss the northern lights, the stars at night, and sometimes even the way downtown gets quiet.

I’ll miss the randomness that I could participate in, if only I looked for it. Good bye Saskatoon, I’m sure I’ll see you again soon.